Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled for a significant state visit to South Africa in the upcoming week, coinciding with the BRICS summit. The announcement was made by Hua Chunying, the Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesperson, as Al Jazeera reported.
According to Hua Chunying, President Xi Jinping has accepted an invitation from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to participate in the 15th BRICS Summit, which is set to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa. The visit is planned to span from August 21 to August 24.
This trip marks President Xi’s second international journey in 2023, following his visit to Russia in March. Notably, Xi Jinping visited South Africa in 2018 to strengthen China’s diplomatic and economic ties across the African continent.
The BRICS summit will unite the five member nations: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Their discussions will revolve around transforming the BRICS group, which collectively represents a quarter of the global economy, from a loose association of nations into a potent geopolitical entity capable of challenging the dominance of developed countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, currently facing an international arrest warrant in connection with alleged war crimes in Ukraine, will be participating remotely through video conferencing rather than attending in person.
Invitations have been extended to 69 countries for the South African summit, including all African nations, with a strong focus on expansion. Several countries, such as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, and Ethiopia, have displayed interest in formally or informally joining the BRICS group.
Despite its ongoing rivalry with the United States, China is actively seeking to expand its global influence and has expressed openness to welcoming additional like-minded partners into the BRICS framework.
While Russia also supports expansion, Brazil has expressed concerns about the potential dilution of the group’s stature, and India still needs to decide on the matter.
The term “BRIC” was initially coined by a Goldman Sachs economist in 2001 to depict the ascendance of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The inaugural BRICS summit took place in 2009 in Russia, and the addition of South Africa in the subsequent year transformed the acronym to include all five nations.
The BRICS countries account for over 40 percent of the world’s population and approximately 26 percent of the global economy.
In addition to participating in the BRICS summit, President Xi Jinping will co-chair the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue alongside South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, as confirmed by the Chinese foreign ministry.